PREMIERE / "Blunt x TACo." / Alfredo Franco / INTERVIEW

"I met Alfredo “Blunt” Franco on a skate trip in Mexico City back in 2006. At the ripe young age of twenty-one, I was immediately impressed this thirty-one-year-old was skating as hard as he was - still seeking out spots, filming, and getting photos, doing legitimately impressive stuff. This was the mid 2000's, where staple nineties pros were about the same age, and we were just beginning to learn what longevity is. And here's this guy from an unfamiliar skate scene, skating just as hard (or harder), but doing it only for the love.
I had a blast skating with him, hearing the early stories of Mexican skateboarding, and checking some of his spots; crazy transitioned fountains and old skateparks. We stayed friends and have been in regular contact since, visiting each other's cities.
As years progressed, my skating has slowed down, but Blunt seems to only progress. At my 36, I look at his 46, and can only be in awe. He's in the small group of skaters that seem to have found the fountain of youth.
But there's another layer for Blunt; he’s one of the originators in Mexico, skating since the eighties, and still keeping it moving to this day. He's seen his scene grow from nothing, evolve, progress, and explode. I can say from my first trip in 2006, every time I've returned I've noticed the changes: more skaters, more skateparks, brands, videos, and the level of skating has grown and grown. Blunt has lived it since its infancy, and still keeps the wheels turning as the years pass." - Brett Nichols

Ollie one-foot. Ph.: Miky Crash

LIVE Skateboard Media: Hi Alfredo, and congrats on a very unique part, may you please introduce yourself? Where in Mexico are you from, exactly?

Alfredo Franco: Hey, thanks for that man, glad you liked it.

My name is Alfredo Franco and for most people I'm “Blunt”.

I was born in Mazatlán, Sinaloa on the Pacific Ocean - still go there often, but normally you'll find me in Culiacán or México City.

Slappy pivot grind. Ph.: Alonso Leal

LSM: What and where was the first time you ever saw skateboarding growing up? When did you start skating exactly, how did that happen and how were your first experiences like - gear, spots, crews, civilians, police? Very interested in how starting skateboarding in Mexico must have been like at the time. How was the local scene and media like and how easy was your access to U.S. videos? Any early influences to mention?

AF: First guy I saw with a skateboard was my cousin Pepe: he lived in San Diego, California in the seventies and he moved back to México with a shiny skateboard that really caught my attention.

I got my first board around 1985, I was ten - by then skateboarding was getting popular in Mazatlán, you could say you were a geek if you didn't ride a skateboard. Some skaters were building half-pipes in their backyards or launch ramps on the parks and streets, as many of us had seen in "THE SEARCH FOR ANIMAL CHIN" (1987) - that was the one video that got to Mazatlán at that time and blew everybody's minds.

These videos were pretty hard to find, but, somehow, some friend would manage every once in a while.

Frontside air. Ph.: Miky Crash

Very soon I started hanging out with the skate crew - they were not only a big influence on me but on most skaters who knew them at the time: Fernando Aguinaco, Gabriel Gallardo, Nacho Osuna, Gerardo Rosado, Roberto Clemens. These kids with a punk rock attitude were pretty much the guys to follow if you wanted to skate - some of them used to go to the U.S.A. for summer skate camps, some others were just natural skate rats.

It got to the point that there were three proper skateparks in town at the same time in the eighties, so skateboarding was kind of big back then in Mazatlán - sadly that didn't last too long.

My biggest influence since the early days has to be Mark “Gonzo” Gonzales.

"Life is like
skating downhill:
you have to be
ready for your
next move at the right
time, and it's very
easy to fall"

LSM: So, where did life that you from that point on? Which are the paths skateboarding brought you to explore, and which are the lessons it taught you? How much did you get to travel, and what is your general observation on this journey as a whole at this point in time? What is the source of your focus?

AF: From that point on, I just lived my life trying to skate as much as possible.

Through skateboarding, I learned a lot about life. I learned that life is like skating downhill: you have to be ready to make your next move at the right time, and it's very easy to fall and get scars.

As a kid, I used to go to Tijuana with my family a lot and would cross over to California every once in a while to skate with my friend Pablo. I've always tried to travel the most I can. Fortunately I have: I lived most of my life in México City, but I'm always traveling around, going to contests or just skating around different cities. I had the chance to live in Barcelona in 2003, 2005 and 2008, which I believe were the golden years of the place. Malmö, Barcelona and San Francisco are my favorite cities that I have visited. You can breathe skateboarding in those places.

"This has changed because
we're so many now,
it's just impossible
to stop us"

Without these travels, I would have never gotten to be who I am now, and I'm sure it helped my skateboarding a lot but mostly I enjoyed the ride.

Frontside wallride. Ph.: Eduardo Velarde

About the source of my focus - for sure my family, I'm very close to both my parents.

LSM: As much as you may not care for them, you've probably seen many a trend come and go in skating or at large over the years and generations. What do you think of them, are they any confusing to you? Would you say there is more tolerance for superficiality in skateboarding now than there ever was, or did it always exist and just took different forms? To which extent would you say the scene in Mexico was ever impacted by U.S. culture historically, and where would you say it persisted as something authentic? Personally, what is your relationship with skate media - do you (still) watch videos, or do you just skate?

AF: Of course I've seen almost every face of skateboarding throughout time, it has been really fun to see. I think trends must come and go, that's what models the way skateboarding is. Seeing all those different styles and trends just makes me hyped about the whole thing, I like every little aspect of skateboarding.

And for sure there's more tolerance now - there was a time in the late nineties, early naughts where we used to be treated as garbage just for being a skater - not only by the police but by common people, everyone hated us. This has changed because we're so many now, it's just impossible to stop us.

"I judge contests,
do demos,
film skaters,
write articles,
edit videos,
give lessons"

Mexican skateboarding has always been influenced by the U.S.A. just as much as the rest of the world, and of course along the years it has become authentic in many ways in different parts of the country. Every city has his own story, and there are so many.

In cities like Guadalajara, the D.I.Y. movement has grown so much; they're building a lot these days, all around the city.

Ph.: Alonso Leal

I would say I'm involved in skate media in México: I enter and judge contests, do demos, film skaters, write articles, edit videos, give lessons. I always try to do something related to skateboarding. And yes I watch skate videos, read magazines and fanzines all the time - I consider myself a skate nerd.

LSM: And so, what about your current endeavors, what are you doing these days? How is your present scene like, do you have any ongoing project and may you please tell us a bit more about Tablas Asombrosas, the brand you just got a board on? Any other local initiative, artist or crew you would like to mention?

AF: Normally I live in México City but since the pandemic started I've been staying with my folks in Culiacán and we go to Mazatlán a lot - it's a two-hour drive away. I really enjoy being with mom, dad, and the dogs, plus I have a sister with two beautiful kids and they come very often, so I really enjoy family moments now more than anything in life.

I have a few video projects that I need to edit, they have been been on stand-by because of this project. But now they are coming out for sure, soon - the first two are one at Shore Skatepark in Nayarit, and another one in Culiacán and Mazatlán which we filmed during pandemic. So many possible projects in my head - I'm just going easy on all that, no rush for anything.

"I've been randomly getting
and saving clips for
five years"

Tablas Asombrosas Co. (TACo.) has been hooking me up with the nicest boards since a few years ago now, my good friend Benny Santa Cruz runs it and he's doing a great job with the brand, just like he does on his board.

Boardslide to 50-50. Ph.: Miky Crash

Skate brands are growing very fast in México these days - brands like Tablas Asombrosas, Mayas, Beat, Gremio, Deza, Casta, Unsponsored, Lúdica, just to mention a few - there are so many and I'm sure some good stuff is coming out very soon from each of these brands.

LSM: Now we've seen you skate - how did the filming for this video come about exactly, what's the story behind it? How long did it take to film, what is the special meaning that it has to you (maybe some of the clips in particular do) and where exactly was it shot? I'm really curious about basically every spot. A lot of them look off the beaten path as well - how mission-heavy did the whole process feel? Anything you are particularly happy about?

AF: Well I'm always working on a video part like most of us, so this one I started filming just after finishing my part in "VÓRTICE", a full-length video by Nike SB México which we finished filming at the end of 2017, but only came out in March 2019, on TransWorld SKATEboarding.

Ph: Alonso Leal

This new video part is mostly filmed in Mazatlán, Culiacán and México City - I've been randomly getting and saving clips for five years before getting around to starting editing.

"When you're drawing
something in your mind,
eventually, the picture
you do get can
differ a bit"

There are a few clips in a pool I found with my friend Marco in Azcapotzalco in México City (the wallride melon grab one), and some other clips in another pool that is not skatable anymore in Ojo de Agua, Estado de México ("Shaggy's pool" - the one with the wide love seat). Both spots are dope.

Wallride melon to fakie. Ph.: Alonso Leal

There is one clip filmed by my friend Nito during the Thrasher Rock Mexico 2017 tour (the sal flip to fakie on a pyramid) which was back-to-back whilst following The Nuge in Queretaro - that was fun. 

The loop experience was pretty cool, too: that's Emilio's D.I.Y. park in Punta de Mitta, Nayarit - my favorite place on Earth.

About the process - filming is pretty fun until a project needs to be finished, then it becomes an internal fight trying to get the tricks you want to make. While filming some of the last clips I got, there were times where I got very frustrated. I guess when you're drawing something in your mind, eventually, the picture you do get can differ a bit from how you imagined it in the beginning - sometimes it doesn't - depends on each case.

Ollie up to blunt to fakie. Ph.: Miky Crash

Now I'm happy with the whole process and final edit - which, at some point, I thought would never happen.

LSM: Thanks for your contribution Alfredo! This is where you give thanks. Cheers!

AF: Thanks for the window Live Skateboard Media.

Thanks to Brett Nichols for connecting us and showing me spots last November in S.F.

Thanks to Tablas Asombrosas Co. for these years and hopefully more to come.

Thanks to all the filmers and photographers who helped me here.

Thanks to Mom, Dad, Dora Isabel, Elisa y Ramiros.

Thanks to all my friends.

Love you all.

Art: Elisa Perez Franco.
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